MNCM News

"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Supporting Patients as Advocates for their Care

MNCM_10thAnnivLogo_RibbonOnly_FNLA cornerstone of MN Community Measurement (MNCM) is being the primary trusted source of health care information for patients and providers. Information on health care cost, quality and patient experience helps patients engage more readily with their care; clinics decide where to focus quality improvement efforts; and public health officials and policymakers understand the impact of clinical care on our overall health.

We engage patients through a variety of tools and resources so they can make more informed decisions about their care and better understand the care they should be receiving – which allows them to ask questions and be more engaged in their care.

The most significant way is our consumer website, MNHealthScores.org, through which we offer cost, quality and patient experience information more than 1,400 clinics, 535 medical groups and 140 hospitals in Minnesota and surrounding communities. However, we also provide resources to help patients build positive relationships with their providers; identify patterns with their provider by tracking information on their chronic conditions; and stay healthy with in-depth patient education on diabetes, depression and more.

Making data available to the public

Since 2002, MNCM has collected, analyzed and evaluated health care quality information from clinics and medical groups in Minnesota and neighboring communities; it has been publicly available online since 2004.

In 2009, we made a big step by launching our public-reporting, consumer-facing website, MNHealthScores.org. This took the information we’d been reporting publicly to a new level of usefulness for patients by allowing them to easily find the measures that matter to them, compare performance across clinics and find providers close to home.

Minnesota is one of the nation’s healthiest places to live, but not all health care providers are equal. With MNHealthScores, health care consumers can find unbiased, trustworthy information on more than 70 measures of health care quality, experience and cost. Most importantly, consumers can use the information to make smarter choices about and be more engaged in their medical care.

As the volume and diversity of MNCM’s publicly-reported measures expanded, MNHealthScores needed to evolve as well. As a result, it had a major facelift last year. To actively participate in their care and help spur improvement amongst providers, consumers must understand and be able to use the information that we report. The redesigned site features consumer-friendly data displays that embody best practices gleaned from more than a decade of academic research on consumer interpretation of health care cost and quality data displays.

A resource for open enrollment

One of the most critical times for consumers to access information on MNHealthScores is during open enrollment, when they select benefits and chose health care networks. The decisions made Captureduring open enrollment affect where employees go for care and the cost of their care throughout the year. This is particularly true for employees with large deductibles and co-insurance in their health plan, a percentage that is growing rapidly. As consumers are asked to increase their share of the health care costs faced by employers, the choices made during open enrollment are becoming even more significant.

The free reports and resources available on MNHealthScores.org makes it easy for employees to plan for the year ahead with information on how to manage costs, compare clinic and hospital quality, and look up patient experience ratings for clinics. MNHealthScores is the go-to source for consumer health care information – and many Minnesotans take advantage of it. The busiest months for visitors to MNHealthScores are October, November and December – the most common period for employee open enrollment.

Take charge of your health care

The best quality care happens when doctors and health care providers work as partners with patients, family members and caregivers. Research shows patients who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for their own care also have the best patient experiences. And patients who have positive relationships and good experiences are more likely to return for follow up tests, take medications they’re prescribed and, ultimately, stay healthy.

Knowing this, MNCM has developed multiple resources to support consumers in staying healthy, building a positive relationship with their providers and understanding the care they should expect to receive.

Recommended care on more than 22 health topics are available on MNHealthScores.org, providing patients with the knowledge they need to advocate for receiving the highest-quality care. Additionally, MNCM offers patient resources about how they can do that while building a positive partnership with doctors and other health care providers, as well as to enhance their experience as a patient. These resources focus on clear communication; coordinating care; staying healthy; and caring for children.

MNCM was also the originator of The D5, a set of five treatment goals that, when reached together, represent the gold standard for managing diabetes. D5 resources were created to make it easier for people with diabetes to work together and set and achieve goals to better manage their disease.

Amongst the D5 resources is a Diabetes tracker, which is an easy way for patients to keep track of how they’re feeling between appointments, and be able to report back to their provider. MNCM later extended our suite of trackers to include Vascular Care and Depression. By reviewing their tracker, patients can be empowered to work with their providers to identify patterns and trends in how they’re feeling that can inform their treatment, which can be adjusted accordingly to help them better control their condition.

In addition to developing a Depression tracker, MNCM partnered with Minnesota Health Action Group, with assistance from the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, to create Help and Healing: Resources for Depression Care and Recovery. About 19 million people in the United States experience depression every year; it is a common, but serious, illness. It’s also highly treatable, and high-quality care can help patients with depression feel better. The Help and Healing toolkit helps patients understand their diagnosis, how they can manage it, and what care they should be receiving from their provider.

Continue to be the trusted source

MNCM was founded based on the need for standard, reliable information on health care quality in Minnesota. As we move into our second decade, we continue to be the primary trusted resource for health care information for consumers; to provide meaningful information to consumers at critical moments in their health care journey; and to seek engaging and innovative ways to support consumers in the advocacy of their care.